NUI Galway Host Performances by Conductor and Leader of Russian Orchestra

Apr 12 2016 Posted: 10:32 IST

NUI Galway will host a free public concert in the Aula Maxima on Monday, 18 April at 8pm. ‘Polar Voices – From the Arctic to the Atlantic’ consists of performances by members of Ensemble XXI dedicated to the ancient music of the indigenous people of the Russian Arctic, as well as the story of the great Irish explorer, Henry Kellett in the Arctic.

Ensemble XXI, Russia’s first independent orchestra, was founded by the Irish conductor, Lygia O'Riordan and Finnish violinist, Pia Siirala during their studies at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. The orchestra has, over the last decade, carried out an intense study of the music of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Arctic, namely in Chukotka, Kamchatka and in Sub Arctic Sakhalin. This resulted in the establishment of ‘Polar Voices’, which is dedicated to the preservation of the music collected in recordings and film and in its preservation and exposition as a world treasure.

Lygia O'Riordan said: “The world is rightly concentrating on the disappearance of ice and creatures in the Arctic as we witness the horror of climate change, yet there is another catastrophe occurring in the Arctic too - the disappearance of the cultural treasures of small nations. It can be compared to the white washing of ancient cave paintings or the destruction of ancient artefacts. In the case of the ancient music from Palaeolithic times, once it goes to the grave with the indigenous Elders it can never be heard again.”

‘Polar Voices - from the Arctic to the Atlantic’ presents this music in film and describes in readings from diaries written during the field trips of “Polar Voices” life amongst the nomads and the Small Nations of the Russian Arctic. Pia Siirala will perform her composition for solo violin on indigenous themes Ulita's Walk. 

The performance will also tell the story of the Irish explorer, Henry Kellett who was one of the foremost Arctic explorers in the mid 1800's. He discovered the two islands, Herald and Wrangel that now make up the Russian National Arctic Park, also known as the ‘Nursery of Polar Bears’.

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